German tourist, 72, agrees to return 19th century organ pipe to York Minster 50 years after his friend stole it during a lads’ summer holiday
- Klaus Weber, 72, visited the cathedral with six friends in the summer of 1969
- The organ was at the time disassembled and one of the lads took a small pipe
- Mr Weber is returning the pipe with a £50 rental fee as an apology for the theft
- A spokesman for the Minster said it was ‘unaware’ the pipe had been taken
A German tourist whose friend stole an organ pipe from a British cathedral during a lads’ holiday has agreed to return it 50 years later.
Klaus Weber, 72, was one of six friends who visited York Minster in the summer of 1969 – the first time the group had ever left Germany.
During a walk around the cathedral one of his friends noticed the organ disassembled and the pipes lined up along a wall.
And so he decided to take one small pipe from the 19th century organ, despite protestations from his friends.
Klaus Weber, 72, has decided to return an organ pipe stolen from York Minster by one of his friends during a lads’ holiday in 1969
Mr Weber said: ‘We tried to stop him. We told him: “You are a visitor, you should show good behaviour”.
‘But he said “No, it is just a small thing,” and we couldn’t stop him. He never said why he wanted it.’
Two weeks later, as the group headed for Dover, the friend became scared the pipe would be spotted by customs and said he was getting rid of his strange souvenir.
But Mr Weber thought it might be historic and carried it through customs. He lost touch with his friend before he could return it.
He is now returning it to the Minister with a payment of £50: £1 ‘rent’ for each year it has been in his home in the town of Hude, near Bremen.
The Minster believes the pipe dates from the early 19th century, when the organ was rebuilt after a fire in 1829 (pictured, York Minster)
The retired teacher said he did not know what to do with the pipe until the friends reunited for the 50th anniversary of the trip.
He said: ‘I know that I am getting older, and one day will die, and I know that all personal things are thrown into the rubbish.
‘I think that this pipe should not be thrown in the rubbish; so I want to send it back.’
He wants his £50 to go towards the current £2-million refurbishment of the Minster’s organ.
The Minster believes the pipe dates from the early 19th century, when the organ was rebuilt after a fire in 1829.
‘Until he wrote in, we were unaware it had been taken,’ a spokesman said.
The cathedral organ is currently undergoing a £2m restoration project. It has more than 5,300 pipes – with many now being brought back into use for the first time in more than 100 years.